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Edison's Zumwalt ends drama by signing with UCLA
The O.C. defensive player of the year picks the Bruins over Stanford, USC.
HUNTINGTON BEACH - Jordan Zumwalt's recruiting story was dramatic to the end Wednesday.
With half-a-dozen media members and a sprinkling of players and family assembled in Edison's football office, Coach Dave White anxiously peered out the window for his tardy middle linebacker.
When Zumwalt emerged, he offered a quick apology before he sat in front of large Edison-green able. In front of him were hats and pennants from Stanford, UCLA and USC.
But with the crowd in the room now swelling in numbers, Zumwalt waited momentarily waited for his mother, Nanette, to arrive.
The Register's defensive player of the year then picked the middle cap: UCLA.
And just like that, the three-school recruiting battle was over for the senior with an appetite for ferocious hits. The longtime Stanford pledge decommitted and resisted a hard charge by USC, which had two coaches visit his wrestling practice last week.
As late as Monday night, Zumwalt (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) had settled on Stanford, or so he thought.
But on Tuesday night, UCLA became the pick. And luckily for the Bruins, the decision held until Wednesday morning. Zumwalt signed his letter of intent with UCLA to highlight Orange County's National Signing Day.
"In the end, it was UCLA and Stanford," he said. "This has been the hardest (choice) of my life."
Zumwalt struggle with the decision also was evident Sunday. He returned from an official visit to USC only to travel back to Los Angeles to check out UCLA again.
"I'm very relieved it's over," he said. "I have not been this stressed out before in my life. These last couple weeks have been brutal.
"A lot of thought. A lot of frustration. A lot of phone calls. ... (I) definitely felt like a wanted man."
Zumwalt said he picked UCLA over Stanford because it was closer to home. He said his family and friends are important to him.
"I told him, 'You need to do what your heart is telling you to do' and I think he did that," White said. "It's a big decision for a young kid."
In picking UCLA, Zumwalt followed one of his best friends to Westwood. Edison's inspirational lineman Luke Gane, who conquered a bout of aplastic anemia, committed Monday to UCLA as a preferred walk-on. Gane is going to switch from being a two-way lineman to fullback.
"I think he tried focusing on me not going there at all and picking which college would be best," Gane said. ""It's going to be super fun (with Jordan)."
After a stressful recruiting season, Zumwalt certainly can look forward to that.
News of Zumwalt’s decision was excitedly received by UCLA signees Chris Ward of Mater Dei and Shaquille Richardson of Los Alamitos.
But the news was likely tougher for Tustin running back Anthony Wilkerson, who signed with Stanford. Wilkerson, though, showed his class when asked about Zumwalt.
“Whatever is best for him," he said. "I respect his decision.”
FAJARDO SHOWS LOYALTY
Servite quarterback Cody Fajardo showed his loyalty to Nevada by signing with the Wolf Pack.
On Monday night, Nebraska offered The Register offensive player of the year a scholarship. Fajardo nearly took a recruiting trip to Lincoln over the weekend but the visit was called off. Fajardo cited a situation with another recruit as a factor.
Fajardo committed to Nevada on Friday.
“Nebraska tried to jump back in the picture late, but I was loyal to my word,” Fajardo said.
SUN DEVILS SCORE BIG
While UCLA was the big winner in the county, Arizona State finished a strong second. The Sun Devils signed Fountain Valley running back Kyle Middlebrooks, Tesoro offensive lineman Sil Ajawara and Cypress offensive lineman Jamil Douglas.
"I think it's good that we have a strong pipeline coming from the O.C.,” Ajawara said in a text message.
JUNIORS TO WATCH
Mission Viejo junior linebacker Tre Madden has received his first offer: Washington. … Servite junior tight end/defensive end Troy Niklas has added two new offers: Nebraska and Oregon State.